Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

May 2006

A Monthly Archive (70 entries)

Economics non-junk Science

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Bryan snarls, Arnold, please tell us: What's not junk? As I believe Yogi Berra said (if not, it sounds like something he would say), "You can observe a lot just by watching." I think economists should put more effort into... MORE

CoA Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My reader-blogger Joe Kristan spots this WSJ story Interest is growing in the digital version of the breast-cancer screening test, driven in part by a study last fall in the New England Journal of Medicine that said digital was better... MORE

Not Junk? A Question for Arnold

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: The junk-science aspect is to look at correlations and say that they prove what intuition and common sense might wish to be true. I just do not believe that it is possible to use correlation to untangle the... MORE

Good Sense on Fiscal Policy

Social Security
Arnold Kling
I commend Greg Mankiw's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. Even a generous set of excerpts will leave out a lot of well-phrased analysis. let's start with a fact about which every serious policy analyst agrees: The government budget is... MORE

Naked Guy, RIP

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The famed Naked Guy of Berkeley committed suicide in his jail cell. I was an eyewitness to his protest against clothes when we were both students at UC Berkeley. At the time, I often pointed out that the Naked Guy... MORE

Economic Junk Science

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
I am reading the latest issue of the American Economic Review, which is a selection of papers from this year's annual convention of the American Economic Association. A lot of it is what I consider to be "junk science." So... MORE

Class Once More

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
My class autobiography got people riled up. More commenters were riled up at Economist's View than here, by the way. There are some things that I wrote that I don't wish to stand by and defend, after thinking about it... MORE

Strong Mind, Strong Body: IQ and Health

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The ancient Greeks glorified "a strong mind in a strong body." A neat article by Linda Gottfredson, "Intelligence: Is It the Epidemiologists’ Elusive 'Fundamental Cause' of Social Class Inequalities in Health?" (2004. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86(1): 174–199)... MORE

Math Snobbery

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I discuss David Warsh's Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations in my latest essay. David Warsh, a uniquely dedicated journalist, turns economics into melodrama. He takes a number of risks, both in terms of content and style, and not all... MORE

My Class Autobiography

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Bryan is encouraging these things. On both sides of my family, my grandparents were immigrant Jews who tried to make a living as merchants. My mother's family settled in Bradford, Pennsylvania, a declining steel town. My father's family settled in... MORE

One-Sentence Class Autobio of Tyler Cowen

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
It's easy to miss: Mine would involve lots of sports, a mother who brought me to chess tournaments, a father who didn't believe in college, and a grandmother who loved Victor Hugo and Shakespeare.... MORE

Class Autobio of Mark Thoma

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
Economist Mark Thoma has posted his class autobiography. My favorite parts: So, growing up I had a chip on my shoulder, probably still do. I was lucky though for two reasons. First, no matter what I did or how much... MORE

Another Reason I Will Never Retire

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
According to a study that "account[s] for biases due to unobserved selection and endogeneity," retirement really is bad for your health. Just as I suspected. (Next I'd like to see a study confirming the obvious fact that retirement leads to... MORE

My Short Class Autobiography

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
I grew up in an upper-middle class family in a suburb of Los Angeles. My father earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UCLA when I was five; my mom went to college part-time at CSUN, and finished her bachelor's... MORE

My Future Class History

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
Class Action challenges visitors to write a Class Autobiography: "Write your 'Class Autobiography.' A powerful way to reflect on class is to take an hour and write the story of your upbringing in relation to money and class." I had... MORE

My comparative advantage?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Don Boudreaux writes (you'll need to scroll down if you follow the link), Arnold Kling is as well-credentialed and technically skilled as any economist. He has a knack for using metaphors and analogies effectively; his sentence construction is clear; he... MORE

QED.... MORE

Outsource Your Future

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Greg Mankiw once again proves the value of outsourcing by compiling a ton of good career advice. A must-read for grad students!... MORE

How Does Winning the Lottery Affect Ideology?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Not much. A neat new paper in Political Psychology by Doherty, Gerber, and Green finds that winning the lottery decreases support for the estate tax. But there is only weak evidence that lottery winners favor less redistribution, or are more... MORE

Rare Sighting

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
An explanation of Oil Econ 101. Only drastic reductions in U.S. oil use would lead to elimination of oil imports. Until then, the United States will continue to import oil. And U.S. consumers will pay the world price for oil,... MORE

Polygamy: Economics vs. History

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Economic theory says that allowing polygamy makes life better for women. As Tim Harford explains: A lot of the knee-jerk reactions against polygyny are from people who can't add up. In a society with equal numbers of men and women,... MORE

United 93 vs. Sleeper Cell

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I saw United 93 today on Greg Mankiw's recommendation. It's well worth watching, especially the frenzied conclusion. But if you really want to understand terorrism and terrorists through art, you'll get far more out of Showtime's inspired Sleeper Cell (now... MORE

I Can Drunk Just as Well Think!

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
When I was first teaching Industrial Organization (nearly 10 years ago!), there was a big internet campaign to boycott Borders and Barnes & Noble. "It might superficially seem like consumers are getting more and better choices, but just you wait!"... MORE

The Confirmatory Bias Diet

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
John Ford writes, Seth Roberts, a psychologist at UC Berkeley has written a book called The Shangri-La Diet. In it, Roberts described some old obesity rat data and via "self-experimentation" developed a technique for weight loss that he hopes will... MORE

Reminder--Tuesday on Capitol Hill

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If you want the definitive word on the Massachusetts Health Care reform, be sure to attend this event at the Rayburn Building at noon on Tuesday, May 23.... MORE

A Sudden Outbreak of Greed

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes On its face, price gouging is a peculiar explanation for recent increases in insurance premiums. Is greed new to the world? Were insurance companies followers of Mother Teresa just a few years ago? If greed and gouging... MORE

Cruise Control

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tom Cruise got parodied on the season finale of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Why is he the only celebrity who is supposed to have a Ph.D. in a subject to have an opinion about it? I'd like to... MORE

Potentially Disruptive

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Jonathan B. Tucker and Raymond A. Zilinskas write, In the near future, synthetic genomics technology should make it possible to recreate any existing virus for which the complete DNA sequence is known. At the same time, the advent of high-throughput... MORE

GMU Gratitude

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Here's a paper that reminds me why I should be very grateful to be at George Mason's Econ Department: While in the 1970s it was difficult for less prestigious universities to compete on an equal footing with top institutions, which... MORE

Immigration: Seeing is Understanding

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Survey USA ran a neat survey about immigration late last year. They asked people in all 50 states: Which of these 2 statements do you agree with more: One: Immigrants take jobs away from Americans. Two: Immigrants do jobs that... MORE

CoA Alert

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As long as I'm creating an alert for Bryan's book, I might as well create one for Crisis of Abundance, which is an essential resource for anyone interested in health care policy and, with birthdays and graduations coming up, makes... MORE

Economists on Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok composed a letter to the political community from the economics community on immigration. He has posted the letter. Here is an excerpt: Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there... MORE

Move Over, Milgram

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
In Stanley Milgram's famous Obedience to Authority Study, subjects were led to believe that they were giving another human being electric shocks. Many administered what they believed was a lethal dose, just because a man in a white coat told... MORE

MRV Alert

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Holman Jenkins writes, When Americans finally must look daily to the stock market rather than the government as guardian of their retirement, their appetite for fantasies and demagoguery on bread-and-butter issues like gas prices will decline too. The single biggest... MORE

Macroeconomics and Confirmatory Bias

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw has written an outstanding new essay that reviews the history of thought in macroeconomics. I don't know where he is planning to give this paper, but I wish I could be a discussant. Here is a brief excerpt.... MORE

Family vs. State

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I discuss a book by Jennifer Roback Morse. Single moms and the welfare state go together. Strong families and free markets go together. Morse argues that a combination of weak families and free markets is much... MORE

I'll Be Debating Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
At this Cato-sponsored event on Tuesday, May 23rd, at noon on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, my book could use more reviews at Amazon. If you've actually read it, then weigh in. But don't use your review as a way to voice... MORE

The Great Liberal Books

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
On my reading list, a commenter complained that I did not recommend books with which I disagree. Although I disagree with some of Harford, some of Blinder, and much of Warsh, the point is well taken.... MORE

Scam

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Mitchell Zuckoff describes how the Nigerian email scam works. Patiently and persistently, the Nigerians turned Worley’s skepticism into suspension of disbelief, to the point where he seemed to worry that they might not trust him. They made Worley the perfect... MORE

The Mystery of Classism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Don Boudreaux stands accused of being a snob. He said: Service-sector jobs are the most desirable. Until his retirement, my dad had a manufacturing job: he worked as a welder in a shipyard. Like most parents, his dream... MORE

It's all official. My book, entitled The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, will be published by Princeton University Press in early 2007. I put the final version in the mail today. The winner of the... MORE

A Hansonist MD

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nortin Hadler is not your typical MD, as this interview indicates. I think bypass surgery belongs in the medical archives. There are only two reasons you’d ever want to do it: one, to save lives, the other to improve symptoms.... MORE

Reading List

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw's list has a list of suggested readings for an economics undergraduate that are fun enough that you would not be embarrassed (well, not too embarrassed) reading them at the beach I have no quarrel with his suggestions of... MORE

Tyler on Art Subsidies

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
The interview is here. I still think it's the case that when we come to, say, our tax system, and we ask ourselves, "Are we committed to the view that every tax rate on everything has to be the same?"... MORE

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obsfucation

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I'm a fan of Rick Harbaugh's work (with Nick Feltovich and Ted To) on counter-signaling. The motivating paragraph of "Too Cool for School" still blows me away: Contrary to this standard implication, high types sometimes avoid the signals that should... MORE

My Book Commercial

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
is here. I should start by saying that the book does not contain a single major policy recommendation that is politically palatable today. That fact will greatly limit its appeal to most Washington wonks. To gauge their reaction to Crisis... MORE

What's Wrong With the SEC?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Greg Mankiw's not impressed by Jeff Miron's argument for abolishing the SEC. In his response, Miron gets closer to my position, but I still don't think he hits the nail on the head. My view: The essence of SEC regulation... MORE

"Virtually Bone from the Neck Up"

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Don't miss Arnold's link to Val MacQueen's great essay on the triumph of the Ugandan refugees. I especially liked the opening: His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the... MORE

Re-read Group Power

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Max Borders rightly criticizes a proposal for an international agency to effect nation-building. A disconnect between the donors and the recipients means that information feedback loops get lost. The structure of the behemoth makes it virtually impossible for that agent... MORE

Wealthy Ugandan Expats

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Val MacQueen writes Those expelled from East Africa were third generation immigrants to Africa, and had created assets and wealth. Which is why Idi Amin was so interested in them. Now, those families are again third generation immigrants, this time... MORE

Kling Interview

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I'm interviewed over at Catallarchy. The main topic is Crisis of Abundance, but the interview ranges over a number of topics. Some of the questions include, Where does your interest in economics come from? What do you like most about... MORE

I just found out that Milton Friedman's great-grandson Tovar Miles Friedman was born pre-maturely last year, but is now doing well. His story brought me from pity to joy in minutes. Now that you know that things work out, you... MORE

My Earliest Encounter with Economic Absurdity

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Looking back on my childhood, I heard a lot of economically absurd statements. But I didn't recognize them as absurd at the time. Teachers and parents said stuff, and I believed them. The first time I encountered economic absurdity and... MORE

Looking for an Honest Job

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I just watched the excellent Assassination of Richard Nixon. Sam Bicke, the bungling wannabe assassin played by Sean Penn, has a bunch of gripes against the world. But first and foremost, he wants a job where he'll never have to... MORE

Practice Makes Expert

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Both Greg Mankiw and Tyler Cowen recommend an article by the Freakonomics team of Levitt and Dubner in the New York Times on the research of Anders Ericsson into the development of skills by experts. Deliberate practice entails more than... MORE

Scientific Self-help

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen seems quite smitten with psychologist Daniel Gilbert. Tyler justifiably recommends this article about Gilbert, which is from the New York Times three years ago. While walking in Pittsburgh one afternoon, [economist George] Loewenstein tells me that he doesn't... MORE

Back to Normal

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've spent the last five years haranguing my fellow economists to abandon their faith in the self-interested voter hypothesis. One reply has been that modern U.S. politics is an outlier: People today may care more about gay marriage than income... MORE

Intellectual Property Absolutism vs. Pragmatism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Greg Perkins writes, The crucial distinction between discovery and invention lies in their object: facts of nature are what they are and exist waiting to be discovered, while inventions are objects which would not exist without a creator. So intellectual... MORE

Emergent Nations

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: What [Meir] Kohn points out (in other chapters) is that medieval guilds, which we think of as backward institutions, helped to solve the lemons problem long before government inspection came along. Each guild jealously guarded its... MORE

Is the Fundamental Attribution Error Fundamental or Even An Error?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Greg Mankiw's learning psych from Steven Pinker, and I'm green with envy. If I could trade places with Mankiw, I'm sure I'd learn a lot - but at the same time, I could get a lot of objections off my... MORE

Differential Anti-Market Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Of course Arnold's right that outrage over rising gas prices reflects anti-market bias. But in my defense, I was trying to explain why people are especially freaked out by rising gas prices. Why do people seem angrier about losing .8%... MORE

Cross-posting

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I have posting priveleges at the new Cato blog. Not sure how much I'll use them--it's not easy to do two blogs at once. But I wanted to point to this post, where I let off quite a bit of... MORE

Health Outcomes vs. Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A New York Times story says, Americans 55 and over are much sicker than their British counterparts even though the United States spends more than twice as much per person on health care as Britain, researchers said Tuesday. ...The researchers... MORE

Bryan, Read Thyself

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
I can't believe that Bryan wrote about people getting upset about high gas prices without mentioning anti-market bias. This is the perfect example of the public thinking that high prices are due to an outbreak of excess greed (profits are... MORE

Gas: What's the Big Deal?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt tries to explain why people freak out about gas prices. My thoughts: 1) Most Americans buy gas at least once a week 2) They buy a lot of it 3) They buy it by itself--if the price of... MORE

Prof. Steve Miller

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
My student, research assistant, and co-author Steve Miller defended his dissertation today. He's doing some very creative work on IQ, education, and political economy, including: a neat critique of Thomas Dee's well-known article on the civic returns of education, and... MORE

Public Choice Outreach

Public Choice Theory
Bryan Caplan
The deadline for George Mason University's famous Public Choice Outreach Seminar, July 6-9, has been extended to May 19. Attendees get $250 toward travel expenses, room and board, and the chance to listen to many of the leading scholars in... MORE

Health Insurance Regulatory Crisis

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Republicans John Shadegg and Jim DeMint write, In the past 30 years, state governments have instituted more than 1,500 mandated benefits. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, these mandates have increased the cost of individual health insurance by... MORE

May Day Mourning

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
This May Day, the able bloggers of Catallarchy have once again assembled a great line-up of short essays on the dark history of Communism. Highlights include a moving vignette by Polish deportee Romuald Lipinsky on his time in Siberia; Clara... MORE

Bryan gets a Blurb

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes Caplan offers readers a delightful mixture of economics, political science, psychology, philosophy, and history to resolve a puzzle that, at one time or another, has intrigued every student of public policy. (Bryan: You can use that as... MORE

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